Can Vision Therapy Help With Concussion Recovery?

Boy suffering from a migraine after experiencing a concussion

How Vision Therapy Can Help You Recover from Post-Concussion Syndrome

TV shows and movies make concussions look like minor inconveniences. After a bump on the head, a character has a headache for a day or two, then never suffers another symptom.

Things are often much different in reality. Concussions may cause debilitating issues that last weeks or months after your injury. Fortunately, vision therapy can help ease headaches and nausea, eliminate concussion-related vision problems, and make reading and concentrating much easier.

Do You Have Post-Concussion Syndrome?

You may have post-concussion syndrome if your symptoms don't improve after a week or two. Ten to 20 percent of people who've had concussions develop the syndrome, according to The Concussion Project. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Nausea, dizziness, and vertigo
  • Blurred or double vision, particularly when reading
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Clumsiness and balance issues
  • Trouble keeping your place when you read
  • Difficulty remembering what you read
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Confusion
  • Spinning or moving sensations when you're sitting or standing still
  • Difficulty following objects with your eyes

Your eyes and brain work together to provide quality vision. After light enters your pupil, the clear lens inside the eye focuses it on the retina at the back of the eye. Light impulses are instantly transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain, where they're processed into images. Even mild brain injuries can interfere with your brain's ability to receive, process and perceive images.

Focusing on near or far objects, a skill most of us take for granted, can be affected after a concussion. You may notice blurriness when you try to focus for more than a few seconds. Blurriness may be prolonged or can come and go.

Both of your eyes must move together to provide good vision. A concussion can affect your ability to move your eyes in unison. If the eyes send very different images to the brain, you may experience double or blurred vision, difficulty reading, eyestrain, headaches, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Even problems that seem unrelated to vision may actually be caused by issues with your brain's visual centers. A motion sickness problem or difficulty walking or driving may be caused by an injury to specific areas of your brain responsible for vision.

A Vision Therapist Can Help You Recover from Your Concussion

Vision therapists are optometrists specially trained to treat conditions that interfere with the brain and eye connection. During your first visit to a therapist, you'll discuss your symptoms and participate in a comprehensive eye examination.

Comprehensive examinations involve much more than reading an eye chart. In fact, you may have 20/20 vision, yet still suffer from post-concussion syndrome or another vision problem. As part of the exam, you'll participate in a variety of tests that will determine if you have any issues with eye teaming, tracking, focusing, memory, attention, processing and other problems.

If your vision therapist determines that your symptoms are related to post-concussion syndrome, he'll recommend a vision therapy treatment plan that will address your specific issues. Vision therapy enhances the brain and eye connection with activities, games, and assistive devices.

One of the most simple types of vision therapy activities involves the Brock string. After you attach one end of the string to a stationary object, you'll hold the other end against your nose. You'll gaze at each of the three beads located on the string to improve your focusing ability.

Computerized games designed to improve balance, focus, hand-eye coordination, visual memory or eye teaming are often used to treat post-concussion syndrome. Therapy may also involve using balance balls or wearing special lenses, such as yoked prism eyeglasses that may help improve walking, balance, and nausea.

Vision therapy offers a simple, natural way to ease your post-concussion symptoms. Contact us if you would like to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam.

Sources:

The Concussion Project: A Concussion is a Form of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

https://concussionproject.com/

NCBI: Optometry and Vision Science: Vision Therapy for Post-Concussion Vision Disorders, 1/17

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27505624

Optometry and Vision Science: Vision Therapy for Post-Concussion Vision Disorders, 1/17

https://journals.lww.com/optvissci/Abstract/2017/01000/Vision_Therapy_for_Post_Concussion_Vision.11.aspx

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Testimonial

  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
    Michael L.